Archives for posts with tag: Zysoshin

‘There are some expressions which, when heard, convince you instantly that their author is a man or woman of great subtlety, that their illumination is intense and pure. This expression of Rygansogun’s is one such: Only a man of flames can live in a house of fire. Of course, knowing Master Rygansogun was a RoMayZine philosopher, one can see that this epigram may be applied to war – that, surely, is one sense of the “house of fire”. Anyone who has fought with the Forbidden Army would feel this: unless a man becomes a thing of flame himself, he cannot live in the house of fire, he must burn, and perish. I have walked there, in the house of fire, and I know something of burning. And yet’ the young Lord went on, lifting his pale blue eyes to look at Zysoshin, and apparently blithely unconcerned that he was addressing his thoughts on complex philosophy to an eight-year-old boy, ‘perhaps the house of fire is not just the house of war, but the house of life itself. Certainly, this is the inflection placed upon the epigram by a much later philosopher, the genial and gracious Serensobel et:denu, a man of Fine Rank, of the Bullrush Mark and the dominant figure of the Ploughing Oxen Era, a master of synthesis, who did so much to try and draw the main traditions of pure philosophy together. Serensobel wrote: Only a man of flames can live in a house of fire. Only a child can live in the house of children.

Excerpt from Fire House, Volume 6 of Dustless

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So the boy slept. He woke again, and I will tell you of that in a moment. But let him sleep for a while now. He deserves a little peace, doesn’t he?

It will be obvious to you, I imagine, that I have some affection for the boy. I have followed him closely through this story, never letting him out of my sight for very long.

It will not always be like this. There are too many voices, and too many stories.

We are not set up to listen to one story alone, however much we may want to. But equally, we are not set up to hear every story.

We must choose, for the most part, which stories we attend to, and which stories we tell.

Only the damned, perhaps, have no choice in this matter.

And yet, as we turn away from this story, and listen to that – as we grow deaf to this story, and attentive to that – isn’t there a kind of betrayal going on?

I think so.

Only, even now, I am not sure who is betrayed.

Well, well – never mind. We are not set up for too many stories. Let us concentrate on the one in hand.

For after all, only a man of flames can live in a house of fire. Only a child can live in the house of children.

Listen, and I’ll tell you about it.

Excerpt from Fire House, Volume 6 of Dustless

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Re-post | Original post December 2014

…Zy heard a song coming from an open air café, set among gardens on the edge of the SietTon.

…oh, do not leave me so soon,
but allow sleep to take you back again
into the morning, and let the sun rise alone.

When the world of dreams is so beautiful,
why struggle to wake?
For once the day’s long labour is over, after all,
you will only sleep again.

I do believe, the world itself, the planets and the stars
in their hearts all crave to sleep,
that sleep is the deep desire
of all things.

So rest, my love, here with me.
When all of life is just a wheel of dreams,
let us choose the dreams of sleep
and not of waking
to make ourselves complete…

It took Zy some time to work his way around the café…


Excerpt from Master Darkness [iv] | Volume 24 of Dustless

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The first thing he remembered was the clouds. The clouds, and Zysashin’s voice. His sister, Zysashin, laughing.

Did the clouds come out of Zysashin’s voice?

That was strange…

The first thing he remembered was the two of them, together on the moor, running under the brief summer sky, racing clouds across the heather.

How did they run?

They hurdled, or scrambled over, the low, soft, round grey boulders that studded the hillside. Zysoshin, Zysashin: twins. They ran hard, lifting each other up if one stumbled, trying to reach the thorn tree near the edge of the track before the cloud’s shadow fell over their heads, ending the game. The wizened black thorn was the winning post…

Sai…

Uxo…

Sai, SolMin

And how did the game begin? In those short summers, when the days were long?

Well, they would wait by the stream until a cloud appeared over the brow of the hill, and then, trying not to giggle, sprint towards the thorn.

They raced together – only then was the race real. Sometimes Zysoshin would race alone, without Zysa, and sometimes even beat the cloud to the thorn – but it didn’t matter. He knew it didn’t count without Zysa. Even if she watched him race the cloud, Zysa sitting on the Bug Stone in the sunlight, and he said: ‘“Watch me, Zysa – Zysa: watch”, and they both laughed and yelped when the tip of the great white cloud first appeared over the top of the hill, like the tentacle of some fairytale sea creature, and Zyso set off, splashing through the wet grass and over the peaty, black earth, in a kind of ecstasy – even then, if he managed to reach out and touch the trunk of the thorn before the shadow fell upon him, he knew he had not won very much really, it was only him alone, it didn’t mean anything.

No, only when they raced hand in hand was the race true. And though they were both slender, of similar build, long-limbed and agile, and though Zysa was hardly slower than Zyso, when they ran together, they always lost the race against the cloud – unless it was a very fat, old summer cloud, lazy and ambling, which didn’t count anyway: but at least when they lost together, the losing was real. To run alone (and Sasa could beat the cloud on her own, too) was not really to run at all.

Their home and their world was a high place of clouds and of winds. It belonged to them…


Excerpt from The Sentinels, Volume 1 of Dustless

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So the boy slept. He woke again, and I will tell you of that in a moment. But let him sleep for a while now. He deserves a little peace, doesn’t he?

It will be obvious to you, I imagine, that I have some affection for the boy. I have followed him closely through this story, never letting him out of my sight for very long.

It will not always be like this. There are too many voices, and too many stories.

We are not set up to listen to one story alone, however much we may want to. But equally, we are not set up to hear every story.

We must choose, for the most part, which stories we attend to, and which stories we tell.

Only the damned, perhaps, have no choice in this matter.

And yet, as we turn away from this story, and listen to that – as we grow deaf to this story, and attentive to that – isn’t there a kind of betrayal going on?

I think so.

Only, even now, I am not sure who is betrayed.

Well, well – never mind. We are not set up for too many stories. Let us concentrate on the one in hand.

For after all, only a man of flames can live in a house of fire. Only a child can live in the house of children.

Listen, and I’ll tell you about it.

Excerpt from Fire House, Volume 6 of Dustless


And the Way was hard to come by, and precious to find…

Volume 1 | The Sentinels

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Dustless | Volume 1 is approximately 20 pp./a5

status | published 11 02 2013

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…Looking more closely at Alzu now, however, Zy was not so sure. Did he like this man? Well, liking was above Zy, really – he was the mere son of a sentinel, and Lord Kurososhora was from what amounted to a different world, the world of those with commanding and not obeying voices. Did Akzasosan like him – that was Zy’s ultimate method of judgement: did the Shion Suli like the Shion Alzu? And Zy wasn’t sure. There were certainly moments when the two men appeared to be floating closer to each other – dancing – and they had obviously discussed things of some importance to grown-ups, Zy could at least understand that. Kurososhora Alzu was certainly magnificent, and yet his magnificence was not (like Akzasosan’s) something internal, Zy sensed, something integral, but was less inherent, and less structural.

It was true, even in the metallic brilliance of his shillo garments, the Lord looked less Xor than Alzu – less rich, less splendid. The plump and supple furs seemed to encase Lord Kurososhora in an armour more convincing and more impenetrable, somehow, than actual mail. But even the furs were slightly deceptive: Zy noticed now that the hem of Alzu’s coat was rather threadbare, as were the ends of the sleeves; and the sheen of the coat wasn’t even – there were patches where the fur appeared hardened and worn, and the hat looked a little motheaten. Moreover, the coat wasn’t fastened properly: one of the buttons, Zy spotted, hung on a long, loose thread.

Still, Alzu was the most splendidly dressed person Zy had ever seen. But even this splendour didn’t quite run in complete accord with the picture Zy had of the man as a whole. Lord Kurososhora was really very thin – it was as if his bones had eaten away at his flesh, or as if his flesh was not, as with ordinary people, a vital part of him, but more a kind of afterthought. The shion’s skull was alarmingly present in the face – the shape of the bones, the sockets of the eyes, the teeth – Zy could almost see the bones, and the way the teeth were set into them, as if a light had shone on Kurososhora Alzu and flashed away the living tissue, revealing the basic skeleton beneath. His dark eyes – the irises were a deep brown, but the pupils were unusually large, for some reason, giving Zy the impression of glittering blackness – were shining shadows: they dwelt in the caves of the sockets, and gazed watchfully out. So thin was the face that even when looking forward, it seemed almost half a profile: and when the head was in profile, the cheekbone, brightened with a hectic flush – the only colour in the face – knobbled out at Zy, stared at him like a kind of blind, bony eye.

The black pencil moustache, and the eyebrows, which also looked as if they’d been drawn on with a ruler, and the elegantly razored prongs of the sideburns, gave Alzu’s face an even more angular, cut-up appearance.

So, the coat didn’t quite go with the body and head, but there was more, too: the manner didn’t quite fit with the man, either. The indolent drawl, facile and bored; and the aloof, amused languor – there was something else in there, Zy felt, something stirring and moving around beneath the surface of the man’s attitudes; and not only moving around, but moving against – kicking out at them, a little, or waiting, rather like a predator, to fall upon Kurososhora Alzu from the inside, to make him its prey, either by disturbing, or by completing him.

Re-post | original post January 2015

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Dustless | Volume 1 on Kindle


SPOILERS

Dustless is a unique novel, almost 3.5 million words long. Less a conventional narrative than an open-ended literary world, it nevertheless pursues two main stories: the first, the journey of a group of riders across a vast empire; the second, the journey of one of those riders, a young boy, Zysoshin, into the infinite world of the mind, to a state where, ultimately, the imagination is able to construct reality.

The excerpt above comes from Volume 7: Flowing House. Flowing House deals, in part, with the themes of gambling and risk, and much of the narrative involves a kind of duel, fought with stories, between two very different men. The first of these stories is told by Lord Alzu, a stranger the riders encounter on a remote road in winter. Zysoshin – Zy – studies Alzu as a sleigh carries these strange bedfellows along a frozen road through desolate country…

…Those alien, dedicated men, who walked in Starless Darkness, had no place, really, out here. This was the world of the tanzo, and of nature. They were like the figures in one of Zy’s recent dreams – giants at one moment, dwarfs the next. Out here, they were tiny. Zy understood that they were violent men, ruthless, intent on hurt. And they were powerful, and revered. But what kind of power could dent that astonishing sky? And how could men hurt this land, which stretched on in all directions, absorbing time and space, absorbing light, and darkness, and all the energies and activities of men… Their dreams, their wishes, their conflicts and their needs…


Excerpt | Dustless Volume 13 | River direction

Imagine a beginning…

To a journey greater than any other…

Imagine…

Dustless | Volume 1

 

They live alone, in a watchtower by a road with no travellers.
Zysoshin, the young son, asks his father the purpose of the road:
what is the road for?

…‘The road, Doda’ he urged.

‘You know most of what the road is for already’ said Shinsota, with a surprising directness.

Zyso realised this meant that the time was nearly up.

Shinsota continued: ‘Who does the road belong to?’

‘You, Doda,’ said Zyso, in a sloppy, half-comic voice.

At this, Shinsota roused himself, and gently began disentangling his son from his embrace. Ah, thought Zyso, in a moment he will be gone.
‘Who does the road belong to?’ asked his father, patiently but deliberately.

This time, Zyso answered quickly and clearly.

‘The emperor.’

‘And who is the emperor?’

‘He is the guardian of the law.’

‘And what is the law?’

‘The law is the Way.’

‘And what is the Way?’

‘The Way is…’ Zyso faltered in the catechism a moment. ‘I forget, Father: what is the Way?’

Shinsota frowned briefly, and completed unwrangling his son from his neck and beard.

‘The Way is All, Zyso. And where and how do we keep the Way? In the Book of the law. And who guards the law? The emperor. The emperor, the law, the Book and the Way – this is our life, this is all. So’ – putting Zyso away from him, so the boy was standing – ‘the road is for our life, and our life is for the road. Time for bed.’

The last words came out clipped definitively.

‘But Father – I don’t understand,’ said Zyso.

‘It will take your life to understand, little Zy, So of Shin,’ his father replied as he stood up with a final, flitting, reminding glance at the gathering darkness. ‘Don’t be in such a hurry.’

Zyso tried, but couldn’t quite let go: ‘But I don’t understand, Father. What is the emperor?’

‘He’s the guardian of the law. Come now, bed – you promised.’

‘I’m going, Father, I promise, but – what is the emperor?’

Shinsota, with his clever, strong hands, quickly rotated his son through 180°, and began propelling him firmly towards the bed.
‘You wouldn’t understand, Zyso. Later, when you’re grown up.’

‘Alright, Father. I defer myself.’ Zyso thought he’d better throw a deference in, almost conversationally – but followed it up with a last, despairingly casual question as the small wooden ladder to the upper bunk touched his fingers: ‘But the emperor – what is he like? Is he like the sky? Like the clouds? What, Doda?’

‘Undress,’ murmured his father, ‘make prostrations and go to bed.’

‘I will, Father.’

Zyso, conceding defeat, began undoing his robe. He waited for his father’s rough, quick kiss, the hands upon his head and the blurred grating of the whiskers against his skin. But, for a moment, the kiss didn’t come.

Oh, thought Zyso. This is a pause. I thought it was the end.

It was quite a long pause – a four-button pause. Zyso also kicked off his right slipper as he worked on the small neat buttons and the button-holes.

Then the pause ended, and something like a new world began for Zyso.

‘The emperor is a man,’ said his father.

Still undressing rapidly, kicking off the left slipper, Zyso half-turned to Shinsota.

‘What is a man, Father?’

Shinsota laughed out loud – a short, half-joyous sound that ended suddenly.

‘A man? Why, I am a man, Zyso.’

‘And the Wizard Brix’ Zyso responded: ‘He is a man. And Captain Bustle…’

Uxo: they are just characters in stories, Zysoshin. They are not real. But the emperor is real. The emperor is a man like me. Only… Higher.’

Zyso wriggled out of his trousers, and stepped away from them, the soft leather making little broken leg shapes on the floor.

Then he paused for a moment, as the thought became too much to ignore, and too great to defer in any way.

‘Do you mean, Father, that there is more than one man?’

‘Too late, now, little So of Shin’ his father murmured. Here, the kiss came, a scuttle of whiskers around the softness of the lips, just touching Zyso’s forehead.

Shinsota also leaned over his sleeping daughter, and kissed a loose strand of her hair.

It was beginning to get dark in the room now, and Zyso knew his father must go up.

The Goodnight came, setting all the bones of the world into the right place, allowing the stars to come, giving sleep permission to hold sway now.

‘Goodnight, Father.’

Shinsota ruffled his son’s hair affectionately.

‘Make your prostrations.’

‘I will, Father.’

Now his father was at the thick, heavy door leading from the parlour to the tower.

Again, when the end seemed to have happened, it hadn’t – it was another pause.

‘And yes, Zyso – there is more than one man. But the way things are, you may never see another. Pray for me, and for your sister. Make your prostrations.’

Shinsota said this over his shoulder, as he moved into the stairwell, and then there was the swing-to, the smooth click as the massive wooden door, hung on the hinges of the light, violet metal that doesn’t rust, shut conclusively behind him.

More than one man?, thought Zyso. Two men? The emperor, and my father?

Is that what the road is for? So that the emperor can come down it? Like in the fairystories? The emperor, who is the guardian of the law?…
But how can there be more than one man? And if there is more than one man, why did Doda say I might never see another? Maybe he is already coming. Maybe he is coming today…

Did I say it was often winter there?

Excerpt from The Sentinels, Volume 1 of Dustless

Dustless | Volume 1


Re-post | Original post December 2014

And then came one of those moments – increasingly rare, it seemed to Zy – but astonishing when they occurred: a moment when Akzasosan appeared to slip out of the limits of himself, and rise up, unpredictably, towards an entirely different kind of life.

The Lord began to sing.

From the Emperors of Steel to Moin III,
one thing has kept this world pure,
and forged together sky and sea,
made to shine, made to endure:
in the sounds of hammers and the ring of swords,
in the chains of blood and in all our words,
from Moin III to the Emperors of Steel
one thing has bound us, wheel to wheel:
that thing is metal.

Metal daughter, metal son,
we are the Metallic ones:
metal son and metal daughter,
calm in peace, calm in slaughter,
cool, fluent, indestructible,
through our veins runs purest metal,
and – oh, my noble daughter,
oh, my faithful son,
therefore, we are the Metallic ones.

Well, the world it turns and the world it burns,
but always, the world must learn
who alone will rule beneath this lonely sun –
we will, the Metallic ones.

Sleep then, Baby, right through the night
like soft silver, glowing, bright,
sleep my Babe hard and sweet
until Evening and Morning stars meet:
sleep like a metal beyond all dust,
sleep like a metal, through all rust
pass, pure and straight,
through the dawn’s defenceless gates:
and when you rise, rise like a sun,
always a Metallic one.

Fall, my sweet, as light on a lake,
fall, my dear, like white snowflakes:
and when you wake, wake first, wake quick –
for you are my child,
and you, my child,
are Metallic.

Metallic.

Metallic…

The Lord’s singing voice was lighter and higher than his speaking voice: he raised it. The wind had died down, and his voice went up through the cold calmness that had descended on the Sea of Trees.

From the first moment and the first word, Zy felt intensified, alerted, almost painfully so: he stopped breathing. How strange it is, he thought, the difference between the voice that speaks and the same voice entering into song. There is a kind of leap. With the transition from his wry, rather drab speech of the past few minutes to the haunting, twilit melody of the song, the Lord appeared to jump from being one kind of person to another – he seemed expanded, loosened, set free.

And the song itself – was it a kind of lullaby? – had something magical twisted into it, a profound power that instantly called to Zy, and emphasised its own difference from the conditions of normal speech. This was no jahzig song: it had its own beauty, but it was not that of the sunburnt, drought-dazed, aching, empty horizons of peasant melodies – there was a frightening coolness to Akzasosan’s song, its refusal to be quite one thing or another. Its rhythm was irregular, its structure asymmetric. It refused its own order, disdained its own laws. It was warm, and tender, but it was icy, and detached as well. It was gentle, but it was violent. It was a lullaby, but it was a call to arms. And there, out on the wild track running through Ahamuji Forest, when Akzasosan sang into the freezing winter air, it was like lifting a lantern up, and showing it to the world.

Excerpt from Mask [ii], Volume 10 of Dustless


Re-post, with additional text | Original post, April 2015

So the boy slept. He woke again, and I will tell you of that in a moment. But let him sleep for a while now. He deserves a little peace, doesn’t he?

It will be obvious to you, I imagine, that I have some affection for the boy. I have followed him closely through this story, never letting him out of my sight for very long.

It will not always be like this. There are too many voices, and too many stories.

We are not set up to listen to one story alone, however much we may want to. But equally, we are not set up to hear every story.

We must choose, for the most part, which stories we attend to, and which stories we tell.

Only the damned, perhaps, have no choice in this matter.

And yet, as we turn away from this story, and listen to that – as we grow deaf to this story, and attentive to that – isn’t there a kind of betrayal going on?

I think so.

Only, even now, I am not sure who is betrayed.

Well, well – never mind. We are not set up for too many stories. Let us concentrate on the one in hand.

For after all, only a man of flames can live in a house of fire. Only a child can live in the house of children.

Listen, and I’ll tell you about it.

Excerpt from Fire House, Volume 6 of Dustless

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Re-post | Original post December 2014